From State Sen. Bob Cassilly
Dear Harford County Neighbor,
In 2014, Maryland voters sent a clear message to their elected officials that taxes were too high. During former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s eight years in office, state government spending spiked from $30 billion to over $39 billion. This $9 billion in extra spending was financed by 40 tax and fee increases. Some of these tax or fee increases were relatively small annoyances. Other tax hikes were significant and painful, like the increases in the sales tax, income tax, corporate income tax, and gas tax. In 2014, the people of Maryland registered their opposition by electing a Republican governor and giving the Republicans an additional two Senate seats and five House seats.
It appears that legislators in Annapolis are beginning to hear the voters’ message. In recent weeks, both the Senate and the House of Delegates passed versions of Governor Hogan’s balanced, fiscally responsible budget. Governor Hogan’s budget funds our State’s most important priorities, like education, transportation, and public safety. The budget is also balanced and fiscally responsible. Instead of spending all the money the State is expected to receive, Governor Hogan’s budget leaves over $1 billion in the State’s rainy day fund. By spending within our means, we can ensure that our children will not be on the hook for future, explosive deficits.
Some legislators may also be beginning to accept Governor Hogan’s message that high taxes undermine efforts to improve the State’s economy. Last week, the Senate voted 37-8 in favor of SB 840, a bill to cut Maryland’s income tax. The bill cuts taxes for every Maryland taxpayer by lowering tax rates, increasing exemptions, and boosting the Earned Income Tax Credit. In all, the bill will return $100 million a year to Maryland families. If the House of Delegates follows the Senate’s lead, Governor Hogan will be able to sign this tax cut into law.
Unfortunately, the Legislature’s embrace of fiscal responsibility is still a work in progress. Just last week, the majority party in the Senate voted for an additional $300 million in spending mandates to be implemented over the next five years. Spending mandates force the Governor to include certain politically favored projects in future budgets, regardless of whether the State can then afford to spend the money, and regardless of the State’s changing needs. I voted against this $300 million mandate because I believe that mandatory spending legislation is fiscally irresponsible.
Again, thank you for reading my newsletter. I appreciate hearing your thoughts about what our State government is doing. You can reach me at 410-841-3158, or at Bob.Cassilly@senate.state.md.us. My legislative office is located on 11 Bladen Street; Room 321, James Office Building; Annapolis, MD 21401. Please stop by next time you’re in the area–if I’m not on the Senate floor, I’d like to catch up.
Sen. Bob Cassilly
Maryland Senate District 34